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Bomb Away

June 2024
1min read

Your article “‘Aircraft 53-1876A has lost a device’” (September 2000), about the dropping of an atomic bomb on Mars Bluff, South Carolina, triggered ancient memories of my own. Another U.S. Air Force B-47, earlier in that same year, 1958, was near Hunter Air Force Base, at Savannah, Georgia, when it collided with an F-86 and was forced to jettison its atomic bomb before making an emergency landing. The exact location of the drop was not determined, but it was near the city of Savannah. No further details were given.

In the mid-fifties, a group of swimmers to which I belonged had established an early scuba-diving club. We frequented local waters often in our search for sunken boats, artifacts, and of course, treasure. A few weeks after the bomb fell, our group was on a diving expedition in the tidewaters near Tybee Island. We were cruising in our 17-foot outboard when we spotted a U.S. Navy diving ship anchored near one of the marshy islands. We did not approach too closely but stopped and dropped anchor within loud talking distance. We saw Navy divers entering and leaving the water. Bubbles broke the surface, indicating scuba divers underwater. The divers on the deck readily admitted, when we asked them, that they were looking for a lost atomic bomb.

We made a few dives in the area, assuring them we would report any sign of the bomb to them immediately. They were friendly, sorts and gladly accepted our help. Of course, we didn’t find the bomb, and we soon upped anchor and left. We waved good-bye to our Navy colleagues and wished them well. We never saw them again.

In the months and years that followed, we often thought and talked about that atomic bomb. I do not believe to this day that it was ever found.

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